Acts 1:8; Acts 8:1-4
Our mission is: For the glory of God we will build the church both local and global by being and producing radical followers of Jesus Christ. The spiritual DNA of that statement is gospel, church, glocal, radical.
We have looked at the gospel of the glory of the blessed God as the power of God for transformation. The gospel transfers people to the kingdom of God from the domain of darkness. We have discovered that through the gospel the kingdom of God produces the church, which is the community of the kingdom of God and that the church is vital and a non-negotiable for those in the kingdom.
Today, we unpack glocal.
Acts 1:8 and 8:1-4 introduce some transforming ideas and questions that lead to answers that shape ministry.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Because Jesus has a mission and Holy Spirit empowers his people, Jesus tells them they WILL be his witnesses in Jerusalem AND Judea AND Samaria AND to the end of the earth. Three key words are found here: Holy Spirit / Will / And.
The Holy Spirit indwells the people of God and leads, counsels, convicts and equips Jesus people to get the mission done.
Because Holy Spirit empowers, he produces the certain reality that the church will go to the end of the earth (it is a forgone conclusion; Jesus is not predicting it might happen; Jesus says it will happen). You WILL be my witnesses. Because this going to the end of the earth is certain it must be the design of the church to go to the end of the earth. The church is designed for this. The community of the kingdom is designed for this. Question: What happens in the west when we leave this design off and begin to treat the community of the kingdom like a business or a civic organization rather than the community of the kingdom designed to go to the end of the earth and transform the domains of society? This is a good question. Maybe it looks like the church in the west.
Finally, the trek to the end of the earth (all nations) is not sequential. Rather the trek to the end of the earth is simultaneous. We know this because Jesus said “and” not “then”. This means that the church, not the missions organization, not the non-profit, not the more spiritual people, but the church is to be in Jerusalem AND Judea AND Samaria AND to the end of the earth at the same time.
How to do this baffles the mind if we think on it with the way of doing church that we all are familiar with. What we are familiar with is epitomized in an example Eric and Joseph were sharing with me on Thursday. They were speaking of a person who was looking to get into full-time ministry because their “secular” job was keeping them from ministry; therefore, by leaving the “secular” job one could join the elite ministry people and reach the world. This way of approaching ministry has castrated the power of the church in the domains of society. The idea that one must leave the “secular” world for a ministry position to change the world is counter productive and even false.
Notice how Acts 1:8 gets lived out in the life of the church in Acts 8:1-4:
“And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word” (Acts 8:1-4).
Do you see that? The apostles, the church leaders were not scattered, but the tent makers, the carpenters, the people working “secular” jobs were scattered and they went about preaching the word. You mean that people can have an effective ministry if they keep their jobs and preach the gospel? You bet they can, and I would argue that God’s people doing their vocational calling are more globally ready to be relevant agents of the kingdom than a professionally trained missionary. This is the essence of glocal.
What is glocal?
Thomas Friedman asserts in his book, The World is Flat, that we are no longer living in a world of isolated communities but that the modern phenomenon of connectedness due to technology, travel, vocation, business, and communication have opened the world up to everyone.
September 11, 2001 was a key event that put this flat world on display, and for us, would be a defining providential moment of opportunity to engage the world. Christian professionals began to engage their vocations in serving the needs of the people in our country. As a matter of fact its been men and women engaging their vocations that have brought about the most significant work of making in roads for the gospel as agents of the kingdom.
The world “glocal” first appeared in Harvard Business Review in the Journal of International Communication in the 1980s and was coined by Japanese economists. Glocal basically means that there is a “flat” environment of seamless integration between the local and the global. Roland Robertson popularized the word in the early 1990’s, a sociologist from Scotland, who was pioneering the study of globalization. So, the word is not just made up as a cool sounding church word to describe a ministry. Glocal is a societal reality that is truly Father’s providential vehicle for taking the gospel to all nations.
Glocal is so much more than a combination of the words global and local. Glocal is the idea that the church is to be / can be local and global simultaneously. Glocal is the idea that the missionary is more than the special and more spiritual people who really love Jesus. Glocal asks the question: what if the church was the missionary? Glocal is the idea of understanding that one’s vocation is a holy calling and not to be abandoned for the “ministry”. Glocal is the idea society is not inherently evil. Rather, God created society and that society is to be filled with Christians seeking the society and the people who fill its redemption and transformation under the kingdom of God through the gospel with an eye toward the full consummation of the kingdom. Glocal is the idea that the kingdom of God is advancing and all of his people are agents of it. Glocal is here and there. Glocal is “and” not “then”. Glocal redeems your job as holy and vital to the advance of the gospel. Glocal leads one to ask the question that Bob Roberts taught his planters to ask:
What if the church was the missionary?
This is a revolutionary question. This question is built on the truth of the Great Commission. Jesus is giving the mission to the church not special individuals. The established way of thinking regarding the church and missions is a product more of adaptation to Roman culture in history than it is a modeling of the church in Acts. The church didn’t have buildings until it took over the temples of Roman deities when Christianity we declared to be the official religion of the Roman Empire. The advance of the gospel was the function of some orders of monks not the entire organization of the church. I’m stating this a little too simply, and I recognize that, but now is not the time for the perspectives course and a church history survey. However, we just assume that what we know is what Jesus told Paul to do. That is a bad assumption.
What if the church, all of us, all of the organizational structure, all of the ministries was the missionary?
Do you think that would change how we do children’s ministry?
Do you think that would change how we think about student ministry?
Do you think that would change how we think about where we meet?
Do you think that would change how we do pastoral leadership?
Do you think that would change how why and where and if you go to college?
Do you think that would change your degree choice?
How many people here today had, at any point in their Christian walk, thought they perhaps could have been “called to missions”? My hunch is that all of us have had that sense or feel at some point. What if that call was right but it looked glocal not typical?
What if Father called you to be a business man who can make money by simply looking at a piece of paper and he intended you to be a great funder of the advance of the kingdom? What if you sold that out to be a youth guy? That would be a tragedy.
What if Father called you to be a teacher and you get to equip and send students to the far reaches of the globe who will faithfully execute their vocation while bringing the gospel to bear and being an agent of the kingdom?
What if Father called you to be a medical professional and you had the opportunity to use your local vocation to train and bless the world as a subversive agent of the kingdom?
What if, by engaging your vocation with a glocal mindset, you are being a missionary?
I believe this is how Jesus intends his church to engage the world. Truthfully, glocal is just language to describe the intentional strategy of the Great Commission Jesus already gave us.
Glocal people don’t exit their vocations in domains of society; they fill them as experts who make a global difference as agents of the kingdom. So, don’t exit your domain of society to enter the “ministry”. Stay and transform the domain of society you are in with the gospel.
Domains of Society: fill them with salt and light don’t abandon them
One of the great tragedies of our time is the abandoning of society’s domains by Christians for the “safety” of the walls of the church. This has led to the domains of society being operated by non-redeemed people who are capable of anything, and when that domain takes on a worldview and practice opposite of truth we lament and wale and groan and complain, yet we are the ones who left it and refuse to engage it.
This is not the place to teach on sociology. However, society is a natural way that image bearers gather, organize and function to subdue the earth. It’s amazing that though fallen, image bearers after being scattered at Babel by Father to subdue creation, begin to subdue creation through organizing and functioning together.
Society is not going anywhere. Society will be redeemed by Christ through the Great Commission and will be complete at his return and fully staffed with his people. Listen to Revelation 21:22-27:
“And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:22-27).
With Christ reigning as the King, under-kings, nations, societies bring their glory into the capital city of Jesus Christ to present it as offering. That fires me up for heaven. That is heaven.
The work of the Great Commission is taking the kingdom of God through the gospel into every domain of society, serving as a professional, making disciples, establishing the community of the kingdom, the church and transforming that domain, through the gospel, into a fragrant offering to its creator, Jesus.
Economics (Grudem, The Poverty of Nations; you need to get it and read it), agriculture, education, medicine, justice, art, governance, family; these domains of society are not to be abandoned, rather these domains of society are Christ’s and we are to see that they bring him praise on a glocal scale.
One of the great discoveries of people in the country we like to work in is the re-discovery of art. As the kingdom advances their people are re-discovering artistic talent and the ability to express it. Oh for believers to be key in shaping that re-discovering into excellent, Christ exalting, professional, global beauty. Believing art professionals and teachers are needed glocally. No domain is isolated to a local community alone. All vocations are glocal. Every one can be a sender or goer or both.
When one possesses this glocal DNA they can go and they will inevitably send through equipping.
My vocational calling is education. I was made to be a teacher. Father has spoken clearly to me that I am to equip and send people to the nations. That is what I seek to do as a teaching pastor and as an educator. One of my great joys is listening to our graduates talk about being coaches in foreign countries or physical therapists in Africa or business leaders in the Middle East. If we just talk and live glocal we will launch a glocal movement that will truly touch all nations.
The more we focus on our one UPG the more Father sends people from our fellowship to other nations. We can’t fund all of that, but Father can. We can foster it and release it.
What are some take aways for us today?
1. Discover your created purpose and do it fearlessly with excellence Psalm 37:4
I say you must do this fearlessly because many parents and many peers view vocation primarily as a means of making lots of money rather than fulfilling created purpose, subduing the earth and then receiving Father’s supply. You may have to fight and receive scorn for doing what you were made to do.
I don’t believe this is hard. I believe we all know what we prefer to do and with counsel, can discover what we are good at. What is hard is clearing the cloud of a fallen worldview that prevents us from seeing our vocational desires and Godward, holy and good.
2. Do your vocation in your domain of society with full integrity, clear moral courage and biblical values fully engaged
3. Go front door not back door
Do not hide the fact that you are a Christian. Be clear. Most may already know or assume anyway. It is in hiding and lacking integrity that we get into trouble. Be clear that you are a follower of Jesus Christ. Be good at what Jesus made you to do and put him on display.
This shows Jesus to be powerful, creative, strategic and beautiful. (Example: Christian chemical biologist who can fully put on display the array of intricate information encoded in this portion of a DNA strand and how this gloriously displays an intricate creator rather than some godless process of natural selection)
4. Love Jesus and love your neighbor as yourself
5. Make disciples (live holy, preach the gospel, disciple people into the church, send them as agents of the kingdom)
6. Be the seed of a global church planting movement
Bob Roberts says it like this: Kingdom / Disciple / Society / Church
The gospel makes disciples inside of society and from that society the church will grow and emerge. Jesus will equip pastor/elders. Jesus will equip deacons. Jesus will equip workers. The church is a natural production of the gospel making disciples in societies therefore, spreading to all nations. The church was designed for this as gospel carrying agents of the kingdom.
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)
 Thomas Friedman, The World is Flat
 Bob Roberts, Glocalization, Zondervan: Grand Rapids, p. 14.